Ceremonial first pitch
The ceremonial first pitch is a longstanding ritual of baseball in which a guest of honor throws a ball to mark the end of pregame festivities and the start of the game. Originally, the guest threw a ball from his/her place in the grandstand to the pitcher or catcher of the home team, but the ritual changed after President Ronald Reagan threw the first pitch on the field at an unscheduled appearance at a Baltimore Orioles game. Now, the guest stands in front of the pitcher's mound and throws towards home plate. He or she may also sometimes stand on the mound (as a pitcher would). The recipient of the pitch is usually a player from the home team.
The ceremonial thrower may be a notable person (dignitary, celebrity, former player, etc.) who is in attendance, an executive from a company that sponsors the team (especially when that company has sponsored that night's promotional giveaway), or a person who won the first pitch opportunity as a contest prize. Often, especially in the minor leagues, multiple first pitches are made.
The practice of having ceremonial first pitches dates back to at least 1890, when throwers were often a mayor, governor, or other locally notable individual. Ohio Governor (and future U.S. president) William McKinley, for example, "threw the ball into the diamond" before an opening day game between Toledo and Columbus in 1892. Former Japanese Prime Minister Ōkuma Shigenobu threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the first game of an American All-Star team's tour of Japan in 1908, making him possibly the first person who had served as a national head of government to throw out a first pitch.On April 23, 2012, the Texas Rangers executed a unique twist on the first pitch tradition. Before the Rangers' home game against the New York Yankees, the team held an official retirement ceremony for longtime catcher Iván Rodríguez. Instead of going to the pitcher's mound, he went behind home plate and threw the first "pitch" to longtime teammate Michael Young, who was standing at second base.On July 23, 2020, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, threw the first pitch of the 2020 MLB season after it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.